Stocks ended mixed Tuesday as investors let up on the accelerator after a three-week rally sent indexes to all-time highs.
The Dow Jones industrial average inched 25.96 points higher, or 0.1 percent, for its eighth consecutive gain to set another record at 18,559.01. But the Standard & Poor’s 500 index, which more mutual funds at the core of 401(k) accounts benchmark themselves against, pulled back from its record high. It lost 3.11, or 0.1 percent, to 2,163.78. The Nasdaq composite fell 19.41, or 0.4 percent, to 5,036.37.
A mixed set of corporate earnings helped keep the market in a tight range through the day. The S&P 500 was down for the entire day but never by more than 0.4 percent. About 10 stocks fell on the New York Stock Exchange for every seven that rose.
Netflix was one of the decliners to pull down the S&P 500. It lost $12.97, or 13.1 percent, to $85.84 after the video streaming service reported adding fewer subscribers last quarter than it expected. The tumble continued a sharp turnaround for Netflix, whose stock has struggled in recent months after more than doubling in 2015, the biggest gain in the S&P 500.
Philip Morris International fell $3.11, or 3 percent, to $99.89 after reporting weaker quarterly results than analysts expected. Smokers in North Africa, Japan, Argentina and elsewhere bought fewer cigarettes, leading to a 5 percent drop in shipments from a year earlier.
Better-than-expected earnings from Johnson & Johnson, meanwhile, helped to prop up the Dow Jones industrial average, which has just 30 stocks. The health care giant rose $2.11, or 1.7 percent, to $125.25 after it raised its forecast for profits this year.
“For investors, the most important questions are: When is the recession coming, and am I paying too much for stocks?” said Linda Duessel, senior equity strategist at Federated Investors. “Everything else is noise, and there’s so much noise.”
Duessel does not see a recession on the horizon, and she says stock prices can remain high because government bonds and other alternatives look even less attractive.
A report on the housing industry was the latest to show better-than-expected data for the U.S. economy, joining updates earlier this month on retail sales and job growth. Home construction strengthened more in June than economists expected, particularly in the Northeast and West. The June reading on housing starts from the Commerce Department was the highest since February, though down from a year earlier.
The International Monetary Fund said Tuesday that indicators are pointing to a pickup in the U.S. economy following a weaker-than-expected first quarter. But it also lowered its forecast for global growth this year, down to 3.1 percent from 3.2 percent, due to the United Kingdom’s recent vote to leave the European Union.
As for whether stocks are expensive, one big part of the answer is how much profit companies are producing. Stock prices tend to track earnings trends over the long term, and profits have been on the downswing for the last year. Analysts expect S&P 500 companies to say their earnings per share fell 5 percent in the spring quarter from the same period a year earlier, according to S&P Global Market Intelligence. Wall Street expects profit growth to resume in the second half of the year.
Overseas, Japan’s Nikkei 225 index jumped 1.4 percent on a weaker yen and a Pokemon-powered rally in Nintendo shares. France’s CAC 40 was down 0.6 percent, and Germany’s DAX shed 0.8 percent.
The yield on the 10-year Treasury fell to 1.55 percent from 1.59 percent late Monday.
Precious and industrial metals prices ended the day mixed. Gold rose $3.00 to $1,332.30 per ounce. Silver fell 7 cents to $20.01, and copper rose nearly 3 cents to $2.26 per pound.
The price of crude oil fell 59 cents to $44.65 a barrel. Brent crude lost 30 cents, or 0.6 percent, to $44.66 a barrel in London. Wholesale gasoline fell 1 cent to $1.38 a gallon, heating oil edged up less than 1 cent to $1.38 a gallon and natural gas rose less than 1 cent to $2.73 per 1,000 cubic feet.
The euro fell to $1.1015 from $1.1068 late Monday, and the British pound fell to $1.3093 from $1.3260. The dollar slipped to 106.09 Japanese yen from 106.12 yen.